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Even at a young age, Green River High School junior-to-be Logan Fox knows the state of Wyoming is facing a shortage of health care professionals. Finding ways to resolve the problem falls on his generation, he says.
Fox is headed in the right direction after receiving a hands-on experience through the recent second Wyoming Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Health Care Careers Summer Camp at the University of Wyoming.
Forty high school students from 21 Wyoming communities participated in the weeklong camp. Green River High School (GRHS) students Taylor Orr and Zack Shoemaker also attended the camp that provided students with an opportunity to explore numerous health care careers through interaction and observation.
Students also learned about the requirements necessary to pursue a health care career as well as the numerous job opportunities that will be available throughout Wyoming upon completion of their training.
Fox was encouraged to apply for the camp after learning about student opportunities from GRHS biology instructor Allison Baas and chemistry teacher Erin Arnold.
“I’ve always been interested in health careers in general,” Fox says.
At the UW camp, underclassmen were exposed to careers in such fields as nursing, pharmacy, medicine, surgical technology, audiology, dental hygiene, radiography and ultrasonography. Activities took place on the UW campus, Laramie’s Ivinson Memorial Hospital and at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne.
“Wyoming is facing a critical shortage of health care workers. Camp sponsors hope that opportunities like this will motivate students to consider pursuing health care careers,” says Marivern Easton, Wyoming AHEC program director and also UW College of Health Sciences health professions recruitment director. “The shortage will worsen as the baby boomer generation ages.”
According to a recent report, each Wyoming county is dealing with shortages in primary care and mental health, and many face shortages of dentists and other health care professionals.
The key, Easton says, is to identify, recruit, train and retain Wyoming residents.
“If we can generate enthusiasm among high school-aged students and support them as they pursue education and training opportunities, we have a much stronger possibility of eventually employing them as health care workers throughout Wyoming,” she adds.
During the recent UW program, students explored a variety of health care careers and had opportunities to suture (with chicken breasts); practice starting IVs; make a cast; perform an ultrasound-guided “biopsy”; and operate a laparoscope, an instrument used to examine abdominal or pelvic organs.
Fox particularly enjoyed the hands-on projects, especially how to apply an IV on one of the UW College of Health Sciences simulator arms.
“This program will help me in my science and mathematics classes at Green River,” Fox says. “The camp also gave me more knowledge of what it will be like in the health care field.”
Fox says he will recommend the camp to other GRHS classmates because of the importance of giving back to his home state.
“I learned a lot about the shortage of good health care providers in this state,” he adds. “There will be such a need for them in the future, and my generation will have to meet those needs.”
The camp is sponsored by the Wyoming AHEC, UW College of Health Sciences, WWAMI (Washington Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) Medical Education Program, Wyoming Office of Rural Health, Laramie County Community College, Wyoming Center for Nursing and Health Care Partnerships, and Ivinson Memorial Hospital.
For more information about the summer camp, call Easton at (307) 766-6751.